football-team-1638508_640Socially responsible companies prioritize bettering their communities. You should pay attention to what employers are making a difference in your industry.

The interest in corporate social responsibility (CSR) is growing. The 2016 PwC Global CEO survey found 64 percent of CEOs say that “corporate social responsibility (CSR) is core to their business rather than being a stand-alone program.”

This isn’t surprising considering the benefits that socially responsible companies see. The 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report found that 66 percent of global consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands, and 73 percent of global millennials share that sentiment — up from 50 percent in 2014.

The interest in sustainability is on the rise, which is why the sports industry is full of a lot of amazing socially responsible companies. You need to know about these five employers:

1) Columbia Sportswear

Columbia publicly shares their position statements on climate change, natural goose down, and other ethical practices. Their dedication to preservation is demonstrated in their partnerships with The Conservation Alliance, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, and The Ocean Foundation. They are also the official sponsor of the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day.

To encourage younger generations to be more active, they donate to the Children & Nature Network, the Outdoors Empowered Network, and Big City Mountaineers. Their contributions establish the organization as a top voice in educating people of all ages on the importance of conservation and teaching them how to appreciate the outdoors.

As part of their environmental responsibility strategy, they put best practices to use to be more efficient and less wasteful. For example, they measure and improve their supply chain environmental performance by using the Higg Index framework, a tool used by the industry to evaluate processes and materials on a set of environmental indicators.

2) Patagonia

To hold themselves accountable, Patagonia regularly audits their supply chain, using both an internal audit team and third party auditors to ensure fair labor practices are in use. They pre-screen factories using a “4-Fold” approach, where they require new suppliers to meet their sourcing, quality, social, and environmental standards.

To further reduce their environmental impact, they introduced the Common Threads Initiative in 2011. The Worn Wear program shares stories about how customers repair and care for their gear so it lasts longer and keeps clothing out of landfills. It also provides information about recycling garments that are beyond repair.

Andrew Tarplee, for example, is an outdoor enthusiast. He continues to wear his hat for 25 years, ever since he first bought it for a trip through Australia. “This means more to me than if it was a brand new hat,” he said. “It gives me flashbacks every time I wear it.”

3) NFL

The NFL is fully engaged with various community programs. The NFL Foundation is the nonprofit organization that represents all of their teams. It supports youth football organizations, educates young athletes on health and safety, and provides funding via grant programs, like the Super Bowl High School Honor Roll.

One of their most popular social initiatives is their Play 60 campaign, which promotes exercise among children to help reverse childhood obesity trends. They partnered with the National Dairy Council to create the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which teaches exercise and nutritious eating habits across the nation’s schools.

The NFL Play 60 Challenge was created in partnership with the American Heart Association. It teaches educators and children how to integrate health and fitness into daily classroom lessons.

Their other important social responsibility programs include: raising awareness on domestic violence and sexual assault, other youth football programs like Punt, Pass & Kick, environmental strategies like NFL Green, and Crucial Catch Day, a breast cancer awareness initiative.

4) MLB

The MLB, much like the NFL, offers various social programs. Their Autism Awareness strategy looks to educate people on what it’s like to live with autism. They partnered with Autism Speaks to spread the word. Some teams offer “quiet zones” in their ballparks with a sensory-friendly environment that allows people who live with autism to enjoy the game comfortably.

They also support youth baseball with strategies, like Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. Each team gets involved with their local communities. For example, the Atlanta Braves’ non-profit foundation supports youth baseball field refurbishment, hosts a fitness festival promoting positive body image for young girls, and creates fantasy camps for kids.  

The MLB’s partnership with Stand Up To Cancer helps fund cancer research. One of their most powerful promotions was the “I Stand For” plan, where fans are given placards to write names of people they know fighting cancer. Then, they all hold them up during a designated time at the game, creating an emotional visual showing the many lives affected by cancer.

5) NHL

The NHL is leading the green movement in organized sports organizations worldwide. They teamed up with the Natural Resources Defense Council and announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2014.

NHL Green offers energy tips and shares stories about how several teams are making changes to reduce emissions. For example, the Chicago Blackhawks introduced LED game lights during the 2012-13 season. The Anaheim Ducks installed an onsite oxide fuel cell to offset potentially millions of pounds of CO2 emissions annually.

These changes are big steps in the right direction. The NHL is looking to change the way organizations manage big sporting events.

What You Can Do

If you’re interested in working for socially responsible companies like these, then follow these quick tips:

  • Research a potential employer you want to work for. Check out their values, mission, and vision statements.
  • Use resources like Glassdoor and read employee reviews to see what it’s like to work there.
  • Go to their website and look for their corporate social responsibility information. Some companies release annual reports.
  • Dig deeper on LinkedIn and find current employees working there. Message them and ask about their experience working with the organization and for additional information on how the company operates according to its values.


What socially responsible companies are you interested in?

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